Thursday, October 21, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/11/21

Weekend Activities, 10/9/21-10/10/21 

This weekend, Grandma, Aunt B. and S. came to visit and celebrate M.'s First Communion with us on Sunday. The girls went to the playground,  played Yahtzee, and ate Munchkins, and we had cake on Sunday. 


Morning Time 

Music: On Monday and Tuesday, M. and C. listened to Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Susan Hammond (1992), and on Wednesday, they watched the 1998 video adaptation. 

Singing: We learned to sing My Home's in Montana

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Mountain and the Squirrel" by Ralph Waldo Emerson,  and "The Secret Cavern" by Margaret Widdemer 

Art Appreciation: We discussed Lady in Blue by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. 

Catechism: We started learning the Apostle's Creed using I Believe in God: the Apostles' Creed by Lawrence G. Lovasik. On Thursday, we prayed a Rosary, and on Friday, we listened to the St. Teresa of Avila episode of the Saint Stories for Kids podcast.  


History 

First Grade: In addition to the "Trading and Counting" section in Builders of the Old World, C. read two books on Open Library: One Small Blue Bead by Byrd Baylor (Macmillan, 1965) and Time of the Bison by Ann Warren Turner (Macmillan, 1987). 

Third Grade: M. read these sections of The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster: 

  • Sir Francis Bacon Rings the Bell
  • The King James Bible
  • Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot
  • A Meeting in Scrooby Village
  • A Frenchman Reports on New Spain 
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Champlain Visits Canada
  • Off to Virginia 
  • New France, the First Colony


Science 

We finished BFSU Lesson D-4, Land Forms and Major Biomes of the Earth. We looked up the body of water that our watershed feeds into, and then followed it on the map until we reached the ocean. We also discussed how irrigation and transportation make it possible for people to have food that would not necessarily grow naturally in a given climate.  


English

M. and C. both worked in their Mad Libs reading workbooks. C. finished the first grade book and moved into the second grade book. M. worked on composing thank you notes for her First Communion cards and gifts and C. composed and started copying her birthday thank you notes in cursive.

C. continued reading Farmer Boy. She also read The Snowbound Mystery from the Boxcar Children series. 

M. finished Martin the Warrior  and started reading The Man Who Was Don Quixote by Rafaello Busoni and The Adventures of Don Quixote by Leighton Barret and illustrated by Warren Chappell. 

E. practiced beginning blends in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading

We started reading Anna Witch by Madeleine Edmondson at lunchtime. My husband is still reading from Polly and the Wolf in the evenings. 

We continued reading Three Children and Shakespeare, and got close to the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream


Typing & Handwriting 

M. and C. both wrote their thank you notes in cursive. They also both worked on their lessons on Typing.com. C. completed the beginner level and received a certificate. 


Languages

Caroline continued working on This Little Light of Mine in ASL. 


Art

Using kits from the Dollar Tree, we glued together some felt Scarecrows. We also colored some wooden pins with Halloween designs and used them to hang some Halloween-themed coloring pages on the string we use for our art display. On Wednesday, the girls drew with chalk in the driveway. 


Math 

M. started working on Challenging Word Problems 3. C. finished Review 1 in Singapore Primary Mathematics 2A. She continued to practice addition and subtraction with renaming on the soroban.  


Physical Education

Almost every weekday, the three girls rode their bikes before dinner. 


Instrumental Music

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder daily. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Book Review: Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace (1980)

Recently orphaned, Emily Luccock has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle at Sugar Hill Hall. Emily remembers the mansion from past visits, and is looking forward to enjoying its grandeur. When she arrives, however, it becomes clear that something is very wrong. The house is now under the control of Mrs. Meeching and Mrs. Plumly, who are running a home for the elderly, with Emily's aunt as their servant. Emily's uncle is missing, and there is a mysterious bowl of peppermints in the parlor that no one is allowed to touch, or else. Only Kipper, who visits occasionally to deliver fresh fish to the mansion, is at all friendly to Emily, and it is with his help that she will figure out the secrets of Sugar Hill Hall and drive out the evil lurking within its walls.

I read this book to my oldest three girls, ages 7, 5, and 3, and they were really intrigued from beginning to end. The characters are just exaggerated enough that they don't feel threatening to the reader,  but there is still plenty of suspense to make the reading experience a fun emotional rollercoaster.

For me,  this book was also an interesting conversation starter for how the elderly are sometimes treated in our society. The residents of Sugar Hill Hall are discounted and mistreated by the people who are meant to look after them, and it is utterly detrimental to their mental and physical health. When Kipper and Emily begin to enrich their lives by reaching out to them and offering companionship, everything changes for the elderly characters, and their will to live returns. I think the fantastical tone of the book, and the odd feel of the setting make it an ideal medium for exploring this deeper issue. 

Peppermints in the Parlor made a great read-aloud for us. I think to be read independently, the sweet-spot age range is probably ages 7-10. It's an interesting and fresh take on the age-old struggled between good and evil and a great opportunity for kids to examine some real social issues within the safety of a fictional environment. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 10/4/21

Weekend Activities, 10/2/21-10/3/21 

On Saturday, M. made her first Confession and went to the 5pm Mass. On Sunday, the girls rode their bikes in the morning. 


Morning Time 

Music: I finished reading aloud Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942), and we listened to the rest of the pieces referenced in the book: 

Singing: We continued working on "Be Thou My Vision." 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: Praise for Created Things by St. Francis of Assisi, "A Vagabond Song" by Bliss Carman, "Goblin Feet" by J.R.R. Tolkien, and "Travel" by Robert Louis Stevenson.   

Art Appreciation: We looked at St. Francis of Assisi by Margaritone d'Arezzo found in The Vatican Art Deck by Anja Grebe. 

Catechism: On Saturday, we sang "Dear Angel Ever at My Side" to celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels. On Monday, the feast of St. Francis, we read The Canticle of the Sun illustrated by Fiona French  and Clare and Francis written by Guido Visconti and illustrated by Bimba Landmann. We prayed a Rosary on Thursday for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and again on Friday.


History

First Grade: C. and I read Skara Brae by Olivier Dunrea and we started Life Long Ago: First Farmers by Leonard Weisgard. We also read Wheels and Sails, The Beginning of Settled Life, and Learning to Live Together from Builders of the Old World by Gertrude Hartman. C. watched a short video about Skara Brae to finish out the week. 

Third Grade: M. covered these sections from The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster:  

  • John Smith, Sightseer in Italy
  • Galileo
  • A Royal Wedding
  • Grand Opera and the Violin
  • John Smith and the Terrible Turks
  • John Smith, Slave
  • Cervantes and Don Quixote
  • Boris Godunov
  • The Queen Is Dead
  • King James I
  • The Globe Theater
  • Ben Jonson

On Thursday, she also read about the Battle of Lepanto from National Catholic Register  and watched Christopher Check: The Secret Weapon at Lepanto on YouTube.


Science

First and Third Grade: We started Lesson D-4, Land Forms and Major Biomes of the Earth. From EasyTeaching.Net, I printed fact sheets about Deserts, Grasslands, the Rainforest, and the Tundra and the girls and I used them to fill in a worksheet for each of those four biomes. We also used a biome map to help us identify the climate at different places on Earth, and we looked at a climatograph for Damascus, Maryland.

Independently, M. read Tundra by Delia Goetz and Deserts by Gail Gibbons, and C. read Grasslands by Delia Goetz and In the Rainforest by Kate Duke. 

On Friday, we reviewed the water cycle and discussed the concept of a watershed. We watched What is a Watershed? on YouTube. 


Health

M. had rubber bands put on her molars on Monday to get ready for her orthdontic appliances to be put in on the 18th. We talked about making sure not to eat anything chewy or sticky in order to prevent having them fall out too soon. 


English 

M. and C. each did a few pages in their Mad Libs reading workbooks. 

I started reading aloud the next section of Three Children and Shakespeare, which retells  A Midsummer Night's Dream. M. is still working on her Shylock speech.

E. continued practicing words beginning and ending with consonant blends in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. We started reading aloud More Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories together. C. continued reading Farmer Boy. She also read a Boxcar Children mystery and continued reading 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola to Gran over Skype. M. continued to read Martin the Warrior to herself and she read a short story from The Little Bookroom to Gran. 

We finished Tatsinda on audio. My husband is still reading aloud Polly and the Wolf in the evenings.

We also had story time this week with a few friends. Because different people came, I re-used the farm theme. We read Early One Morning by Mem Fox and Christine Davenier, Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank, and To Market To Market by Anne Miranda and Janet Stevens.


Languages

C. started working on This Little Light of Mine in sign language. 


Typing & Handwriting 

M. and C. both practiced typing skills on Typing.com. M. copied questions from the Catechism in cursive and C. practiced some new letters.


Art 

The girls did chalk art in the driveway. 


Math 

M. continued to work with a protractor in Singapore 4A. On Wednesday, she and my husband read a chapter from Life of Fred: Jellybeans. M. did Khan Academy every day. 

C. worked on subtraction with renaming using the soroban in both Singapore and with me for extra practice. She finished the addition and subtraction of Singapore 2A. She also did Khan Academy every day. On Wednesday, I read aloud a chapter from Life of Fred: Cats

 E. continued to practice adding and subtracting within 9 on the soroban and she worked on being able to identify the numbers represented by different configurations of the beads. 

M. drilled multiplication and division and C. drilled addition and subtraction using the Flashmaster app. 


Physical Education

The girls rode bikes around the park near our house on several afternoons. 


Instrumental Music

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder almost daily.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

ARC Review: The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink (7/20/21)

Thirteen-year-old Esther Gold loves Halloween, and she can't believe her parents want her to stop trick-or-treating, even if she is almost in high school. Determined not to let go of her childhood traditions, Esther tells her parents she is going to the movies with her best friend Agustín, and then drags him out into the street to trick-or-treat instead. After visiting just a few houses on their planned route, however, Esther and Agustín discover that something unusual is happening in their neighborhood. There are no kids out, and all of the adults have fallen into such a deep sleep they can't be roused. The only other people who seem unaffected by this strangeness are Esther's arch-enemy, Sasha, and the dentist who gives out toothbrushes instead of candy. As this unlikely quartet begins to investigate the odd things they have observed around town, they uncover a magical plot by the queen of Halloween herself which will endanger everyone they love if they can't destroy her power. 

This was a really fun Halloween story. The plot is a little muddled and a little simplistic at times, but Esther and her friends have so much heart and sweetness to them that the story is irresistible and impossible to put down. The atmosphere of the whole novel is very festive and includes all the cozy seasonal details that readers want in a holiday-themed read, but there is also enough sinister spookiness to build up a bit of spine-tingling suspense. Aside from Halloween, the story also focuses on growing up: what that means, how to face it, and when to let go of childish things and move onto the next phase of life. For Esther, this means not just letting go of trick-or-treating, but also coming to terms with the changes in some of her relationships, particularly with Agustín, who is beginning to appear to her as more than just a friend.

This story also addresses issues of prejudice, both in the real world, as Esther faces occasional anti-Semitism and Sasha deals with racism toward her Korean culture, and in the fantasy world, where black cats have been scapegoated and given a bad name. These elements mostly felt like an organic part of the story, especially since Sasha is one of the people who has made anti-Semitic comments to Esther in the past, and I appreciated that the author used them in the story and didn't just include them for the sake of preaching. I also liked that Esther was able to forgive Sasha after she changed her point of view. This is a healthy way to handle the situation, and I appreciated that the author presented it as such. 

The Halloween Moon is more of a fantasy novel with Halloween elements than a true scary story, but for me, that is a huge plus. I would have happily read this as a kid despite not being very fond of spooky things, and if my kids were a bit older and there wasn't talk of eighth graders kissing, I'd probably read it aloud to them too. I listened to a few chapters on audio, and it works well in that format. Some of the male narrator's female voices were a bit shrill and stereotypical, but for the most part, his voice suited the story quite well.

I received a physical ARC of The Halloween Moon from Quill Tree Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Read-at-Home Mom Report: September 2021 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

I read 19 books in September, which is the most of any month in 2021 so far. Interestingly, last September I read 18 books and it was my slowest month. Go figure. A good chunk of my reading during the month was taken up by series books because I participated in Series September on Instagram. I also listened to 10 audiobooks, because I just kept getting hooked on quick suspense novels. Here are all 19 books in the order that I read them. 


American Adventures, 1620-1945 by Elizabeth Coatsworth (4 stars)
I actually read most of this book in August, as it was our history read-aloud for our homeschool summer session. Each chapter is a story set during an important time period in American History, followed by an author's note explaining which parts of the story are rooted in real history. The stories were pretty long to read in one sitting, but I managed, and they really got my girls interested in the various events they covered. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (3 stars)
I borrowed this one from my sister. It was my second Ruth Ware book ever, after The Woman in Cabin 10. I liked this one better, but it was still only a three-star read. I enjoyed the fact that it was such a quick read, but I didn't love the way it ended.


An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn (5 stars)
This month, I participated in Series September, hosted by Sarah and Krista, and this was the first of seven series books I read. I listened to this one on audio, and it is my favorite of all the Bridgerton books I've read so far. I loved that it was a Cinderella re-telling, and I felt I got to know the characters even better than the couples in the first two books. I did have to skip the sex scenes, but that wasn't that much trouble. 


Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls by Mitali Perkins (4 stars)
[reviewed on the blog]
I didn't agree with everything this author argues in this book, but I am pleased that a Christian (and Catholic, I think?) take on "problematic" books is out in the world. I think there is a lot of great food for thought in this book, even if Perkins does sort of miss the mark in her understanding of Tolkien and Lewis. 


The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (4 stars)
This is another one my sister lent me, and it's my favorite Ruth Ware so far. I loved that the book was structured as a letter to a lawyer, and I didn't see the reveal at the end coming at all. I will most likely read more Ruth Ware based on how much I enjoyed this one. 


Come Back to Me by Carolyn Astfalk (5 stars)
I listened to this sequel to Stay with Me on Audible, and I absolutely loved it. I really care about the characters in this universe and could not put the book down. As much as I tolerate and even enjoy secular romance novels, there is something so nice about reading a love story with a Catholic worldview. There is a depth and substance to both books of this duology that has made them some of my favorites of this year.


Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (4 stars)
This was another fun read from this series, which answers a burning question: who is Lady Whistledown? I'm a little curious about how things will be in future books that we know her true identity, but I really like the way this reveal was done. 


I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (4 stars)
After several false starts (see the DNF section below), I finally settled on this book as my title about the Middle East for #WorldFullOfBooks on Instagram. It was pretty short and consisted of simple statements describing the author's childhood during the Lebanese Civil War with accompanying illustrations. I thought it was very interesting, but not especially educational about the war itself.

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda (4 stars)
After reading the two Ruth Ware titles, I wanted to read some similarly fast-paced thrillers or suspense novels. I borrowed this audiobook from the library and it wound up being the first of three Megan Miranda books I listened to this month. I liked that the story involved a cliquey HOA, and I enjoyed all the details of the neighborhood and the relationships between the residents. 

Seventeen Against the Dealer by Cynthia Voigt (4 stars)
I read the first 6 books in this series back in the 2000s, but somehow never got to this last one until now. Like the others, it's an introspective story, and it focuses on Dicey stubbornly trying to make her way as an adult without help from anyone. She makes a few missteps and must face the consequences. I love Cynthia Voigt's writing throughout this series and this book was excellent. 

The Space Between Sisters by Mary McNear (3 stars)
This is the fourth book in the Butternut Lake series. It took me forever to get to it because it's an ebook and not available to me on audio, but I'm glad I finally did. It was a pleasant story about two sisters working out their differences and then each falling in love with a good man. I read it in the Kindle app before bed each night and it was a very easy and undemanding read for that hour of the day. 

Before Austen Comes Aesop: The Children’s Great Books and How to Experience Them by Cheri Blomquist (3 stars)
My husband bought a copy of this for me because I was excited about it, but it wound up falling kind of flat. The book lists are interesting, but I'm not sold on the whole reading program the author sets up. I think I was hoping for more discussion of the importance of reading great books and how exactly those books prepare kids to read classics later on. 

Light from Heaven by Jan Karon (3 stars)
After many months away from this series, I dove back in this month. This is the first book of this series that didn't totally wow me. I'm not sure if that's because I read 8 in a row last fall and kind of burned out, or if this book is actually less good. There were definitely things I enjoyed about it, and the setting is as charming and cozy as ever, but it was just not my favorite of the series.

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young (2 stars)
I should have DNF'd this romance set in a small English village. There was way too much sexual content, and I didn't like most of the characters, including the heroine. I was listening to the audiobook, though, and it just became background noise on my daily walk, so I decided to just listen to the end in case it got interesting. It actually did for a few minutes around the 80% mark, but that seemed like an odd time to introduce a new conflict, and ultimately, as a whole, the book didn't work for me. 

Tamar by Gladys Malvern (4 stars)
My husband found this author on a children's book list and I read this book aloud to him so we could get a taste of her writing. The story is based on the Gospel of Matthew and Tamar is the daughter of Jairus. I found it very interesting, and I think it does a nice job of immersing young readers in the daily lives of people who were on Earth at the same time as Jesus, which really personalizes the story of His Passion in a way that reading the Bible on its own may not. That said, I wouldn't have a child read this book until the child knows the Gospel pretty well. The author invents some details - it is historical fiction, after all - and to an unfamiliar reader, it might be hard to differentiate Scriptural truth from the author's imaginings. 

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (4 stars)
This was the second Megan Miranda book I listened to, and I just zipped right through it. I found the details about the main character's dad's health and his life in a nursing home very true-to-life, and that made me sympathize with the main character right away. I also love that the story is told in reverse, so that the characters are privy to information before it becomes known to the reader. It was a little hard to follow in the audiobook and some chapters dragged a bit, but it was really fun to readjust my expectations and predictions at the end of each new chapter, and I was only partially correct in my guesses about how it would end.

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda (4 stars)
My last Megan Miranda read of the month, this one had a fascinating backstory to it, involving a girl who was rescued as a child and her inability to escape from the publicity that followed. There were some good twists and turns in this one, too - some I saw coming and others that took me by surprise. 

Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin (2 stars) 
I was approved for this audiobook on Netgalley. At first I thought it was a straightforward police procedural, and I started out enjoying it, but then I found out on Goodreads that it's meant to be romantic suspense. A few chapters into the book, that finally became apparent in the text as well, and then the whole story just fell apart. The investigation at the heart of the story was pretty interesting, but the romance felt so forced and awkward. I also didn't like the way the female audiobook narrator did male voices, of which there were many.

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross (4 stars)
I finished the month with this fun paperback about a Southern lady whose life is turned a bit upside down when it becomes known that her late husband had a secret lovechild. This had some elements of a cozy mystery, and the writing was really strong and at times, laugh out loud funny. This is the first of a series, and I plan to read some more at some point.  

DNF in September 

I had three DNFs in September. The biggest one was The Source by James Michener. It was just too long and I didn't have enough context to understand all that was happening. I still want to try Michener, but I think I need more familiar territory. I also DNF'd Waging Peace: One Soldier's Story of Putting Love First by Diana Oestreich solely because of the unpolished writing and All the Right Mistakes by Laura Jamison, which I got from Netgalley and which has too many characters with an unbelievable number of problems. 
 

As for the rest of the family's reading...


My husband finished Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch and is currently reading Beneath the Hill by Jane Louise Curry. He is also reading aloud Polly and the Wolf by Catherine Storr to the kids after dinner. 

M. (7 years, 10 months) enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries, and then switched gears and started Martin the Warrior from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

C. (6 years), is still reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She is also reading 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola aloud to Gran on Skype, and she read Franklin Endicott and the Third Key by Kate diCamillo in two days after receiving it for her birthday. 

E, (4 years, 11 months), is starting to pick up random books around the house and look in them for words she can read. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and the Sophie mouse series have been her favorites.

I'm currently reading aloud Tatsinda by Elizabeth Enright to the three older girls at lunch each day.  

A. and R., (18 months), have both been enjoying Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo. R. refers to it as "Diggy" and A. repeats the refrain, "They can work all day." (Mostly it sounds like gibberish, but it's clear that's what she means.) They also like the Stanley books by William Bee. 


Up Next For Me


In October, I'm continuing with the Fall into Reading challenge on Instagram, since the categories are things I would most likely be reading anyway. The theme for the #WorldFullofBooks book club on Instagram is Spooky, so for that I'm reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink. I am also considering joining #Victober and reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. There is also a Month of Mystery Bingo challenge happening on Instagram this month, so I'm planning to throw in a few mysteries as well to fulfill some of those prompts. For book club, I'm reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. 



Saturday, October 2, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/27/21

Weekend Activities, 9/25/21 - 9/26/21 

On Saturday, the three girls rode their bikes, M. to the park with me and the twins, and C. and E. around the playground near our house. Grandma read aloud a chapter of Hickory by Palmer Brown over Skype. On Sunday, we went to the Latin mass as usual. 


Morning Time 

Music: I continued reading aloud Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942), and played recordings of the following pieces mentioned in the book 

Singing: This week, we worked on learning to sing "Be Thou My Vision." 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "Joy of the Morning" by Edwin Markham,  "A Boy's Song" by James Hogg,  "Laughing Time" by William Jay Smith, "The Birthday Child" by Rose Fyleman, and "The Flowers" by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Art appreciation: This week, we studied St. Jerome by Leonardo da Vinci found in The Vatican Art Deck by Anja Grebe. 

Catechism: We went over lessons 8 and 9 The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism, in preparation for M.'s first confession this weekend and first communion next weekend. We had already covered the content, but it was a good review. On Friday, we read the readings for the feast of the Archangels from The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion by Kendra Tierney (Ignatius, 2021), and prayed the prayers to St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. We also prayed the Novena Rose Prayer each day until St. Therese's feast day on Friday. On Thursday, C. and I read St. Jerome and the Lion by Margaret Hodge for his feast day, which was also her 6th birthday.


History 


First Grade: It was a light week for C. On Monday, she read about prehistoric worship, and learned about Stonehenge. For the next few days, we followed up with some videos The History of Stonehenge for Kids (from FreeSchool on YouTube), Stonehenge Monument (from National Geographic on YouTube), Stonehenge for Kids (from The Touring Teacher on YouTube), and Ancient Engineering: Stone Age Secrets (from Curiosity Stream). She also colored this Stonehenge coloring page. On Friday, she read about prehistoric clothing and watched a video about primitive weaving

Third Grade: M. heard these sections from The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster:  
  • Akbar of India
  • Mr. Pilot in Japan 
  • Entrance to China
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars
  • A Star Gazer, Tycho Brahe and His Dog
  • Gustav Adolf, Star of the North


Science


First and Third Grade: We worked on Lesson B-5A from BFSU Volume 1: Adaptations and Survival. We discussed the adaptations animals and plants have to suit them to their environments. I read aloud Plant Adaptations by Julie Lundgren from Hoopla, and showed the girls Living Things Change (from Crash Course Kids on YouTube) and Adaptations at Animal Wonders (from Nature League on YouTube)

Pre-K: E. and I started reading the first section of the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of How. We also read What Happens to a Hamburger by Paul Showers after she specifically requested to learn more about digestion. 


Health 


I recently purchased The Care and Keeping of You from American Girl for M., and it's going to serve as our health curriculum this year. I forgot to mention it last week, but we have covered the first chapter so far, and she is very interested in learning "how she will grow up." M. also went to the dentist this week to have four baby teeth removed in anticipation of some upcoming orthodontic work. This invited lots of discussion of baby teeth among all the three girls, and C. was inspired to the point that the loose front tooth that had been hanging by a thread was finally wiggled loose enough to fall out.


English


M. and C. continued working in their Mad Libs reading workbooks. 

On Tuesday, we finished up the section of Three Children and Shakespeare about The Merchant of Venice, and on Wednesday and Thursday, M. and C. watched a video performance from the Globe. They really seemed to follow it, and they laughed loudly throughout the whole thing. M. is now working on memorizing Shylock's famous speech.

E. worked on some more words containing consonant blends in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. C. continued to read Farmer Boy to herself and started reading 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola to Gran over Skype. M. continued to read Martin the Warrior to herself and Ol' Paul to Gran. 

At lunch, I started reading aloud Tatsinda by Elizabeth Enright. My husband is still reading Polly and the Wolf after dinner.


Languages


C. worked on learning "What a Wonderful World" in sign language. For her birthday, she received a copy of A Show of Hands: Say it in Sign Language and she and M. spent some time practicing signs from that as well. 


Typing & Handwriting 


M. and C. both practiced typing skills on Typing.com. M. copied questions from the Catechism in cursive and C. practiced writing her name and some other simple names in cursive.


Art 


We created autumn gnomes using a printable template from Krokotak and some leaves and flowers from outdoors. The girls also created chalk art in the driveway. 


Math 


M. finished all the algebra quizzes on Khan Academy, and worked on measuring angles in Singapore 4A. On Wednesday, she and my husband read a chapter from Life of Fred: Jellybeans

C. worked on subtraction with renaming using the soroban in both Singapore and with me for extra practice. She also did Khan Academy every day. On Wednesday, I read aloud a chapter from Life of Fred: Cats

E. practiced adding and subtracting within 9 on the soroban and she worked on being able to identify the numbers represented by different configurations of the beads. 

M. drilled multiplication and division and C. drilled addition and subtraction using the Flashmaster app a couple of times, but they missed a few days due to the dentist, C.'s birthday, etc. 


Physical Education


In addition to their morning exercise routine, which I'm fairly certain was not completed every day, the girls also rode bikes on Wednesday morning and again on Friday morning. C. received pedals for her balance bike for her birthday, and she is making great progress. She also received a jump rope and is working on learning to jump with it. 


Instrumental Music


M. and C. practiced piano and recorder almost daily. (M. took some time off for her teeth.)

Friday, October 1, 2021

ARC Review: Crashing in Love by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (10/12/21)

At the start of summer vacation, Peyton is riding her bicycle when she notices someone lying in the road, unconscious. It turns out to be a boy her age, Gray, who has been the victim of a hit-and-run. Already a bit boy-crazy and determined to find a boyfriend, Peyton begins to romanticize what is going to happen when (and if) Gray wakes up. Since her mother is a journalist, and Gray's mother is grateful to her for finding her son, Peyton is able to manipulate things so that she gets to spend time with Gray in his hospital room, and she imagines that, one day, he will wake up and realize they are meant for each other. When she's not at the hospital, she's around town trying to find out who was driving the car that hit Gray, and dealing with tensions between her divorced parents and her paternal grandmother, who has very different ideas about how Peyton ought to spend her summer vacation.

This book has a little bit of everything: some romance, some family drama, and a real-life mystery to be solved. As an adult, it was hard not to feel frustrated with Peyton, but I definitely think girls in the tween age range will understand her motivations and even entertain their own hopes for Peyton and Gray's future together. Similarly, while I guessed who the hit-and-run driver was, I'm not sure that tween readers would figure it out quite so early on, especially if they are invested in other aspects of the book. I was definitely reading the book with the goal of figuring it out, and I think that probably colored my reading experience.

The relationships throughout this book feel very true-to-life. Though it was upsetting to read the scenes in which Grana gave Peyton a hard time, her grandmother felt like a believable human being, and Peyton's strained connection with her best friend, Mari, also perfectly captures the tumultuous changes friendships often undergo during middle school summers. 

I read this book for my own enjoyment because it's not the kind of thing my kids will be ready for or interested in for a long time. It was a pleasant read for me, and though summer is over, I think it's still worth picking up for girls who like romance but want a story of a bit more substance with some higher stakes. 

Candlewick Press provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

ARC Review: The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo (9/28/21)

When Brother Edik finds Beatryce in a goat stall at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing, she is very ill and curled up with a disagreeable goat named Answelica. After she is healthy again, Brother Edik comes to realize that Beatryce is the subject of a prophecy he once transcribed, and she is now being sought by the king for a mysterious and dangerous reason.  With Answelica as her unlikely traveling companion, Beatryce sets off into the woods and into the unknown, willing to meet the king - and her fate - face to face. 

When I first heard of this book, I saw it being compared to The Inquisitor's Tale, and I got really nervous. I didn't want it to be an anti-Catholic story, and I didn't want to be upset with Kate DiCamillo, whose books I generally like. Thankfully, this book is almost nothing like The Inquisitor's Tale in any way. 

The setting is somewhat medieval-inspired, though there isn't an explicit mention of a year, and there are some hints in the text that suggest the time period is left intentionally unclear. The monks in the story do seem to have a hierarchy that suggests they might be Catholic, but religion is not the focus of the book, and there is very little religious content in the story. I did think it was a bit of a stretch that a monk in dire circumstances such as some of the ones Brother Edik finds himself in would never think to pray, but other than that, the lack of religion worked better here than moral relativism worked in The Inquisitor's Tale

The story itself is everything readers expect from a Kate DiCamillo novel. There is a character on a quest, who is surrounded by a variety of helpful and quirky friends. The story has its own particulars, but it also has a universal message that can apply in many contexts. The story is also gentle, even in its scarier and more intense moments. It's an uplifting book that pays tribute to the power of friendship, and of reading, and of bravery. The illustrations are also top-notch; Sophie Blackall is one of my favorite artists, and the style she uses for this book is quite different, but very well-suited to the story.

We're still in the Mercy Watson/Bink & Gollie phase in my family, so it might be a while yet before we start on any DiCamillo novels. When we do, though, we have absolutely nothing to fear from The Beatryce Prophecy, which remains true to the standards set by DiCamillo's other beloved novels and makes no mention of any of the problematic themes that made The Inquisitor's Tale such a terrible disappointment.  

Candlewick Press provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/20/21

Weekend Activities (9/18/21-9/19/21)

On Saturday, M. and E. went to Dollar Tree with me to shop for gifts for C.'s upcoming 6th birthday.  C. went to the park with Daddy and the twins. 

On Sunday, we attended the Latin Mass as usual. 


Morning Time 

Music: I read aloud the rest of Chapter 3 and the very beginning of Chapter 4 of Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942), and played recordings of the following pieces mentioned in the book: 

Singing: This week's song was "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." We also reviewed "I Met a Bear." 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "The Road Goes Ever On and On" by J.R.R. Tolkien, "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer, "Autumn" by Emily Dickinson, and "My Land is Fair For Any Eyes to See" by Jesse Stuart 

Art appreciation: This week, we studied and compared The Crucifixion of St. Peter by Michelangelo and The Crucifixion of St. Peter by Guido Reni, both found in The Vatican Art Deck by Anja Grebe. We also watched a video about the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes.

Catechism: M. and C. worked on learning the questions and answers for Lesson 8 in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. On Tuesday, we prayed the appropriate prayers for St. Matthew's feast day from The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion by Kendra Tierney (Ignatius, 2021). On Wednesday, we used the same book to begin praying the Novena Rose Prayer in anticipation of St. Therese's feast day. On Thursday, we listened to the Saint Stories for Kids episode about Padre Pio and the girls watched the episode of Lukas Storyteller about him as well. 


History

First Grade: C. focused primarily on cave art this week. We finished reading They Lived Like This in the Old Stone Age by Marie Neurath, and we also read the sections entitled "The Cave Dwellers" and "Cave Artists" from Builders of the Old World. C. also watched Our Ancient Human Cousins from SciShow Kids, Lascaux Cave and the Stunning Primordial Art of a Long Lost World from Blast World Mysteries, The Oldest Known Cave Paintings in the World from TopTenz, and Did Humans Make These Ancient Cave Paintings? from National Geographic. On Friday she drew her own cave art on brown paper using oil pastels. 

Third Grade: M. heard these sections from The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster:  

  • John Smith, Schoolboy
  • The Faerie Queen
  • The Upstart Crow 
  • The White-Plumed Henry 
  • El Greco and Philip II
  • John Smith, Would-Be Knight
  • El Dorado, City of Gold

She also read El Greco by Mike Venezia, and wrote and illustrated a narration about John White and the Indians on Roanoke Island. 


Science 

First and Third Grade: This week, we worked on Lesson B-5 in BFSU Volume 1: Concepts of Adaptations, Food Chains, and Energy Flow. This included the differences between herbivores and carnivores and the balance among them as well as an understanding of food chains. We read Who Eats What? by Patricia Lauber on Open Library and also watched the Food Chains Compilation from Crash Course Kids. At the end of the week, I printed some worksheets about food chains from Enchanted Learning (available to us through our umbrella group) and C. and M. did those for review. 

Pre-K: E. and I finished reading The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why


English

M. and C. each did a few pages in their Mad Libs grammar books. C. struggled with the page on capitalization, mostly because she has not learned to print and has not yet learned capital letters in cursive. 

On Tuesday and Friday, I read aloud two more chapters from Three Children and Shakespeare. We have just one act of The Merchant of Venice left before we move onto the next play.

E. worked on some more words containing consonant blends in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. We also read some of the Sheep in a Jeep books together; she read the words she could, and I did the rest. She also practiced her poem  "If I Had A Cardboard Box" by Aileen Fisher. C. started Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and practiced her poem, "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson. M. finished Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries and started Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques. To Gran over Skype, M. is still reading Ol' Paul by Glen Rounds and C. finished A Brother for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson. M.'s new poem is Shylock's famous speech from The Merchant of Venice.

At lunch, we finished listening to Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. At dinner, my husband is still reading aloud Polly and the Wolf by Catherine Storr. 

On Wednesday, we hosted story time and we  read books on a farm theme: Early One Morning by Mem Fox, Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin, Stanley the Farmer by William Bee, and Barn at Night by Michelle Houts. The babies also heard Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth by Lucy Bate, Here are my Hands by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambeault, Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler, To Market To Market by Anne Miranda, and A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes.


Languages

C. has taken a real interest in American Sign Language, so we started learning the alphabet and we're practicing some songs from We Play Along on YouTube. She has mastered Happy Birthday and is close to mastering You Are My Sunshine


Typing & Handwriting 

M. and C. both practiced typing skills on Typing.com. M. copied questions from the Catechism in cursive and C. practiced writing her name in cursive. 


Math 

M. worked on another review section in Singapore 4A as well as more quizzes in algebra on Khan Academy. 

C. worked on subtraction with renaming using the soroban in both Singapore and with me for extra practice. She also did Khan Academy every day.

E. continued to practice moving the beads on the soroban up to 9. 

M. drilled multiplication and division and C. drilled addition and subtraction using the Flashmaster app. 


Physical Education

M. and C. did their morning exercise routine almost daily. On Monday, M., C., and E. stayed with our next door neighbors while we took the twins for their 18-month well check. The neighbors took them to play on the playground and on a walk around the neighborhood and then played ball and running games with them until we got home. I also forgot to mention that I recently took M. to the high school track to see if she could run a mile. She ran it in 10 minutes, 58 seconds. 


Instrumental Music

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder daily.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

ARC Review: The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eugene Yelchin (10/5/2021)

The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain is a memoir for middle grade readers written by Eugene Yelchin, the Newbery Honor author of 2011's Breaking Stalin's Nose. This heavily illustrated first-person account relates the experiences of young Eugene, then called Yevgeny, as he uncovers his talent as an artist while living under communist rule in the USSR. 

This is a fascinating read. Yelchin easily brings the reader into the world of his childhood, where his neighbor is a spy for the KGB, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov is a national treasure soon to escape to North America, and his mother worries he will never find the gift that will guarantee his safety when he reaches adulthood. Yelchin manages to drive home the oppression of Communism while also maintaining a levity that makes this book fun to read and very difficult to put down. (I picked it up to check out a few pages and an hour later came up for air, having finished the entire thing.) Young Yevgeny comes across as a kid just like the child reading the book, and because of this relatability I think young American readers will be better able to empathize with the parts of his life they have, thankfully, never experienced themselves. 

I learned very little about Communism in school. A book like this makes it possible to introduce the subject at an age appropriate level that doesn't overwhelm kids but also helps them to understand the seriousness of the dangers and problems experienced by families in Communist countries. Eugene Yelchin is an incredibly talented writer and artist, and this book is basically flawless. 

I received an ARC of this book from Candlewick in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/13/21

Weekend Activities (9/11/21 - 9/12/21) 

On Saturday, C. and E. practiced riding their balance bikes around the playground while M. helped me with the babies on the playground slides. Then all three girls played together on the playground. On Sunday, we attended an outdoor Mass for homeschoolers followed by some outdoor playtime with friends old and new.


Morning Time 

Music: I read aloud the rest of Chapter 2 and beginning of Chapter 3 of Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942), and played recordings of the following pieces mentioned in the book: 

Singing: The girls learned to sing "Lift High the Cross." We concluded morning time each day with Salve Regina. On Friday, we practiced their previously learned songs in a family sing-along. 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "Me" by Walter de la Mare, "Song for a Little House" by Christopher Morley, "Frolic" by A.E. (G.W. Russell), "Feather or Fur" by John Becker and "Puppy and I" by A.A. Milne. 

Art appreciation: Using questions from TeacherVision.com and MasterpieceSociety.com, we discussed The Marriage at Cana by Veronese found in The Louvre Art Deck: 100 Masterpieces from the World's Most Popular Museum by Anja Grebe and Erich Lessing. Late in the week, we compared it to The Marriage Feast at Cana by Juan de Flandes. . We also watched a YouTube video showing the painting hanging in the Louvre

Catechism: We reviewed the first seven lessons in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. On Tuesday, we prayed the Collect Prayer and the Holy Cross Prayer for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, found in The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion by Kendra Tierney (Ignatius, 2021). On Wednesday we used the same book to review the Scripture readings for the seven sorrows of Mary and to pray the Collect Prayer and "To Mary in Honor of her Seven Sorrows" for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. On Friday, we listened to the episode of Saint Stories for Kids about St. Hildegard of Bingen. 


History

First Grade: C. learned about the importance of the discovery of fire, and about the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. We read the sections of Builders of the Old World called "The Fire Makers" and "Buried Treasures." On Thursday, she filled out a short timeline of Early Human History, showing the progression from Old Stone Age to Iron Age. On Friday, we read the first few pages of They Lived Like This in the Old Stone Age by Marie Neurath, stopping before the section on cave paintings, which we'll cover next week. She also watched When We Tamed Fired from PBS Eons.

Third Grade: M. read (with Daddy) these sections from The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster: 

  • Little John Smith
  • To and From Holland
  • Mary Stuart and the Honest Man 
  • James
  • Lord Roanoke and Virginia Dare
  • Spanish Armada 
  • War of the Three Henrys
  • The Lost Colony 

On Friday, they read The Lost Colony of Roanoke by Jean Fritz, and M. wrote a narration about John White. 


Science 

First and Third Grade: This week, we worked through Lesson A-6 in Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding Vol. 1: Matter II: Air Pressure, Vacuums, and Earth's Atmosphere. My husband demonstrated how to use a pressure gauge using a tire pump and a rubber playground ball. The girls also puffed up their cheeks to feel how air pressure increases inside their mouths. 

From Fun Science Demos, I showed the girls Exploring Air and Air Pressure, Weather: Measuring Air Pressure, and What is Air Pressure - Egg Demonstration. We also watched Air Exerts Pressure ExperimentWeather Barometers: How Does a Barometer Work?Weather Maps (Isobar Fronts); and How a Vacuum Cleaner Works

Pre-K: E. and I read about animals in The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why. She fell in love with the photo of an axolotl, so I showed her a YouTube video of axolotls yawning


English 

M. and C. love their Mad Libs workbooks. This week, C. worked on pronouns, adjectives, conjunctions, and prepositions. I went to explain prepositions to her, and she immediately started singing Busy Prepositions, which we then watched together. M. worked on adverbs, abstract nouns, conjunctions, and irregular past tense verbs. 

 On Tuesday and Thursday, I read aloud to M. and C. from Three Children and Shakespeare. We are well into The Merchant of Venice now, and the girls beg me to read more each time we finish a chapter. At lunch we're still listening to Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. At dinner, my husband is still reading aloud Polly and the Wolf by Catherine Storr. Grandma started reading aloud Hickory by Palmer Brown over Skype on Thursday. 

E. recorded her video reading of Ann's Hat. She needs some more instruction before the next book we have for her, so now she's just working out of The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. This week, she learned to read words ending in -ck, -lk, and -nk. 

M. read I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Vining Gray and started Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries. C. finished The Mouse and the Motorcycle, then read The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting and Jenny's Moonlight Adventure by Esther Averill. To Gran over Skype, M. is still reading Ol' Paul by Glen Rounds and C. is still reading A Brother for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson. 

I read aloud a bunch of picture books to the babies too: In the Diner by Christine Loomis, Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming, Bruno Munari's Zoo, Some Dinosaurs Are Small by Charlotte Voake, One-o-Saurus, Two-o-Saurus by Kim Norman, B is for Baby by Atinuke, Stanley's Fire Engine by William Bee, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle.

M. recorded her video recitation of Oberon's Speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream Act II Scene 1. C. is still working on memorizing "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson and E. is working on memorizing "If I Had A Cardboard Box" by Aileen Fisher. 


Math 

M. spent most of the week working on an algebra test on Khan Academy. It was very challenging for her, but a good challenge. She will go back and work through the algebra unit tests in the coming weeks and then attempt to take it again. M. also worked on Review 2 in the Singapore 4A workbook, but she will need to revisit some of the word problems to correct her mistakes. 

C. has been struggling to add and subtract with renaming on the soroban. My husband made her some "cheat sheets" to help her stop panicking at every step of the process. She now says the problems in Singapore 2A are fun. She especially likes the exercises where the answers help decode a secret message. 

E. learned to count to nine on the soroban, and she continued to work on moving the beads up and down with the correct fingers. She did some simple addition and subtraction up to 4 to help her practice. 

M. drilled multiplication and division and C. drilled addition and subtraction using the Flashmaster app. 


Physical Education

M. and C. did their morning exercise routine daily. They were also taken out to ride their bikes on Monday afternoon. 


Instrumental Music

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder daily.


Handwriting 

M. copied a question and answer from her Catechism in cursive each day. C. worked on cursive each day.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 9/6/21 (First Week of 2021-2022)

We have shifted gears and we're in full school mode once again. This year, M. (8 in November) is in third grade, C. (6 later this month) is in first grade, and E. (4 next month) is in Pre-K. R. and A. (17 mos.) are along for the ride. We have made some changes to the schedule, but most of our curriculum remains the same.  


Morning Time 

Music:  I read aloud Chapters 1 and 2 of Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942), and played recordings of the following pieces mentioned in the book: 

  • Piano Sonata no. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, no. 1, mvt. 2 Rondo. Allegro
  • Sonatina in G Major, Anh. 5 
  • Ecossaise I in E-flat Major, WoO 86
  • Ecossaise II in G Major, WoO 23
  • Sonatina in G Major, Anh. 5, mvt. 2 Romance 

Singing: M. C., and E. took turns singing the call and reponse parts in "I Met a Bear". We concluded morning time each day with Salve Regina

Poems: from Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957): School-Bell by Eleanor Farjeon, "Arithmetic" by Carl Sandburg, "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson, and "Geography" by Eleanor Farjeon.  

Art Appreciation: Using questions from TeacherVision.com and MasterpieceSociety.com, we discussed Woman with a Mirror by Titian, found in The Louvre Art Deck: 100 Masterpieces from the World's Most Popular Museum by Anja Grebe and Erich Lessing. At the end of the week, we compared this painting with Conversation in a Park by Thomas Gainsborough. 

Catechism: We reviewed the first seven lessons in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. On Wednesday, we read about St. Peter Claver in Picture Book of Saints by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, SV.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1979). 


History 

First Grade: C. has begun the first year of the classical Trivium. We are using Builders of the Old World by Gertrude Hartman (D.C. Heath and Company, 1946) as our spine, and this week we read "How the First People Lived" and "Sticks and Stones," which primarily focused on the tools of the Old Stone Age and New Stone Age. 

C. watched several videos about archaeology and prehistoric life: 

On Friday, she made paper replicas of stone-age tools using a printable from Zing-Zoom.com and dictated a narration to me, which I typed up and had her illustrate. She also used some items in the dress-up box to dress herself up like a caveman. 

Third Grade: For this segment of the year, M.'s spine is The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster. This week, she and my husband read these sections together: 

  • The Queen's Little Pirate
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Philip II
  • A Declaration of Independence
  • The Virgin Queen and Her Frog Prince
  • Mary Stuart
  • The Three Henrys and the Queen Mother of France
  • Young Walter Raleigh and Virginia
  • No Gold - But Tobacco
They also went over a chart in the book called "Royal Relatives" which shows the successions in England and Scotland that explain how the same person was both King James I of England and King James VI of Scotland. 


Science 

First and Third Grade: We are still in Volume 1 of Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding and using Early Elementary Science Education by Shannon Jordan as a guide. This week, we started the year with Lesson C-3a,  "Energy and Force." As an introduction, we read Move It! Movement, Forces, and You by Adrienne Mason, and did  a demonstration from the book showing how more force is needed to move heavier objects. M. and C. each lifted a 5 lb. back of flour to show what 5 lbs. of force feels like, and they each completed a worksheet identifying whether the force in a particular action is  push or pull.  

In the second half of the week, we watched videos demonstrating how water wheels use the force of gravity, how engineers protect buildings against wind, gravity, and earthquakes, and how wind farms generate electricity: 

On Wednesday, C. did the Push-and-Pull Toys Kiwi Crate.  

Pre-K: E. and I read the first section of The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why (Amazing Me) and some of the second section (How Things Work).


English 


I happened to receive some Mad Libs Reading workbooks for review from Penguin Random House, so I decided we would start the year using those to review parts of speech, spelling rules, etc. C. is working in the first grade book, and M. is working in the third grade book. I had them skip the phonics sections because they were too easy, but I will probably have them do everything else. I had also have the books for 2nd and 4th grade for whenever they finish these. 

With M. and C., I am reading aloud Three Children and Shakespeare. With C. in the evenings I'm reading aloud from My Bookhouse. To give me voice something of a break, our lunchtime book is now on audio. We're currently listening to Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. At dinner, my husband is reading aloud Polly and the Wolf by Catherine Storr. 

E. is continuing to work through The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. This week she started the section on consonant blends and learned how to sound out double letters. She also practiced with a Hooked on Phonics reader called Ann's Hat and her three-letter word flashcards. M. listens to her reading once a day after she receives instruction from me.  

M. read Valley of the Smallest: The Life of the Shrew by Aileen Fisher and The Marvelous Invention of Alvin Fernald by Clifford B. Hicks. C. read Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill and started The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. To Gran over Skype, M. is reading Ol' Paul by Glen Rounds and C. is reading A Brother for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson. 


Math 


M. has been doing math at a 6th grade level on Khan Academy, so we're starting the year having her do all the review sections in Singapore 4A. We'll review the weak spots as needed and then move forward until we reach material she doesn't know yet. This week, she did Review 1, and she got some questions about rounding and timelines incorrect, so she went back and did the practice problems on those topics. M. is more than halfway through Life of Fred: Jellybeans.  

C. resumed working in Singapore 2B, using the soroban to assist her with multi-digit addition and subtraction. In the evenings with me, she is also doing additional soroban practice with multi-digit addition and subtraction, and using the Cuisenaire rods to review the numbers that add up to equal 5 (little friends) and 10 (big friends). She started Life of Fred: Cats this week. 

E. is beginning to use the soroban. I'm teaching her from the Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 textbook. This week, we focused on Unit 1, which teaches the parts of the soroban, and which fingers to use to move which beads. We also practiced clearing it and counting up to five. 

M. and C. started using an app called Flashmaster to drill their math facts. It's a free app for the Kindle Fire and it delivers their results to my husband's Evernote account by email. 


Physical Education 

I  borrowed some of the exercises from the Ten Thousand Method YouTube videos we used the past two years and wrote out a routine for the girls to do on their own before breakfast. This is what they're doing: 

  • 15 little arm circles
  • 15 big arm circles
  • 25 punches
  • 20 marches 
  • balance flamingo (count to 20)
  • 15 kangaroo jumps
  • 15 bird wings
  • 15 monkey walks 
  • 15 windmills
  • balance flamingo (count to 20)
  • 15 rabbit jumps
  • bear crawl (count to 20)
  • 20 seal claps
  • balance flamingo (count to 20)
  • 15 frog jumps 
  • 20 horse gallops
  • 20 lizard runs
  • balance flamingo (count to 20) 
  • 20 marches  
  • 25 punches
  • 15 big arm circles
  • 15 little arm circles 

Currently, they're doing their workout on the deck, but they'll move to the basement once it gets too cold.

The girls also went for one last swim on Labor Day, and they also had an unexpected playdate on our first day of school because our public school friends had a day off for Rosh Hashanah.  


Instrumental Music

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder daily.


Handwriting 

M. copied a question and answer from her Catechism in cursive each day. C. worked on cursive each day.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Book Review: Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls by Mitali Perkins (2021)

I borrowed Steeped in Stories by Mitali Perkins from Hoopla for a few reasons. One was that I had a goal to read three books about books in 2021 and I needed one more. Another was that I had just DNFed a 55-hour audiobook (The Source by James Michener) after 17 grueling hours and this audiobook was much shorter. Another was that my husband and I had just been talking with a friend about how to handle "problematic" children's books of the past, and the topic was on my mind. I was also intrigued by the negative Goodreads reviews complaining that the book was religious. I would never have guessed it had religious content based on the description I read, and I wanted to know more.

The structure of the book is based on the seven virtues and their corresponding vices, and the author selected one book per virtue. The titles she covers are Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. For each, Perkins makes the case for why adults should continue to read these books and share them with their kids, even if they include flawed characters or outdated ideologies. She also makes references to the writings of saints, Pope Francis, and even the Catechism of the Catholic Church to point out how reading these books can enrich a reader's spiritual life as well. 

Though I think her comments on potential racial issues in Tolkien and Lewis revealed a lack of knowledge of the fantasy genre more than any problems with the books themselves, Perkins's analyses of the other titles were interesting and compelling even when I disagreed with portions of them. I appreciated that she showed obvious affection for each author (though calling each of them "aunt" and "uncle" was a shade too cutesy for my taste) and that she imagined herself posing questions to them about why they chose to write the things they did, rather than just outright condemning them all.  Her thoughts on how to think about race in children's literature on a broader scale are also interesting and far less accusatory and nasty than a lot of the rhetoric I've seen surrounding this topic. I'm a little disappointed that our culture feels so guilty for reading its classic literature, but I think this book does a good job of combatting those feelings of discomfort or shame and makes a great case for keeping those classics around. I also liked the questions provided at the end of each chapter, which would make great jumping-off points for book club discussions or prompts for journaling.

If you're a parent or just a children's literature enthusiast wondering how to deal with the problems of racism and other forms of bias in older books, this book is a very gentle and inviting way to enter the conversation. Perkins strikes a nice balance between research, personal anecdotes about reading with her own children, and thoughtful literary analysis. I listened to the entire book in two days, and I could not stop talking about it when I was done. I don't think it's a perfect book, but I'm thrilled that a Christian (and Catholic, I think?) take on children's literature is out there in the world, and I definitely think it's worth a read. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Read-at-Home Mom Report: August 2021 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

Despite getting off to a slow start due to my inability to get any reading done at the beach, August was another great reading month once I got going. I read a bunch of middle grade ARCs, several nonfiction titles, two Regency romances (a new genre for me!), a YA fantasy (generally not my genre) and a Pulitzer prize winner. There was definitely a very broad range. Here are the 17 books I read in August:



Soccer Trophy Mystery by Fred Bowen (3 stars)
[Reviewed on the blog]
Fred Bowen is one of my favorite living middle grade authors (which is saying a lot because there is a lot of contemporary middle grade that I don't like), and this book marks his 25th anniversary writing sports stories. This title is his first mystery, and as such, it wasn't his strongest, but it provided a great lesson about girls' sports history and the main characters are twins, which we always appreciate in my family. 

The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eugene Yelchin (5 stars)
I requested an ARC of this book based on how much I loved Breaking Stalin's Nose by the same author. Breaking Stalin's Nose is a novel about childhood behind the Iron Curtain, and this book is a memoir of the author's childhood and how his art was a source of joy and hope for him. I read this book in one sitting - it manages to get across the difficulties of life in Communist Russia while still keeping the hopeful outlook that middle grade books typically offer. I absolutely loved it. 


Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton (2 stars)
The good news is I finished the series. The bad news is this book was pretty disappointing. I just found it boring, and it made me sad that one of my favorite characters had to go out on such a low note. 


Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (5 stars)
I read this YA fantasy novel based on the ballad of Tam Lin (among other things) for a new book group I joined on Instagram where there is a monthly theme and everyone in the group reads whatever they want within that theme. The theme for August was Mythology, which is not my favorite, but this book ended up being really intriguing. My husband recommended it to me after reading it himself, so I went into it with high expectations, and it definitely met them.  I would need to read this book many more times before I could even begin to understand all that takes place in it, but I loved its complexity. It reminded me a little bit of The Dark is Rising - it has the same mix of magic and reality, and it gave me the same feelings of being satisfied at the end but also knowing there depths I have yet to understand.


Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynne Rae Perkins (3 stars)
I intended to read this aloud to the girls at the beach, but we ended up not reading aloud at all until we got home, so we did it the week after we came home from the beach. It's such a gentle story about two sisters spending a week at the beach. It was a nice way to look back on our own beach memories and my girls all said it was "the best book ever." It was my second time reading it, and I stand by my original 3-star review, but I did think it was slightly better than I remembered. 


Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson (4 stars)
This was the last book I read from this year's Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide. While I don't think I'm at a point where I'm ready to overhaul how we do laundry, I was totally fascinated by all the information given in this book  and the little tidbits of laundry history it mentioned.


The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne (4 stars)
I chose this audiobook on Libby at random because I was looking for essays, and it wound up being a great choice. These recollections from the career of an NYPD cop were equal parts funny and touching. The stories were originally written to be performed on stage, so audio is definitely the best way to enjoy them. 


The Happy Hollisters at Pony Hill Farm by Jerry West (2 stars)
I read this aloud to C., who is almost 6. I've read a few of these aloud, and this one was my least favorite. It was disorganized and predictable, and it seemed to go on forever. 


The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher (4 stars)
This was the book I started at the beach and didn't finish. It's a nice, leisurely family story that jumps around in time and centers on the descendants of a painter who are trying to decide whether and when to sell his work. I didn't like it as much as Winter Solstice, but it was still good. 

I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays by Sloane Crosley (4 stars)
This was part of my essay kick this month. The author has a different worldview than I do on many things, but on others, I could completely relate to her. The highlight of the book was the essay about being asked to be in an old friend's wedding despite not having much in common with her anymore. 



The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (4 stars)
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (5 stars)
Based on the Netflix show (which I have no plans at all to watch), I never would have guessed that I would like the Bridgerton series, but Krista from Books and Jams on YouTube mentioned how fun they were on audio, and I know she's not big into books with a lot of sex, so I decided to try them based on her recommendation. I'm so glad I did! The first book totally surprised me by having a very Catholic-friendly view of sex, and the second book, too, only had sex between married characters and not that much of it. I'm into the third book now, and it is a bit more explicit, but the quality of the writing is good enough that I will endure the inconvenience of having to skip through scenes I don't want to hear. Rosalyn Landor, who narrates the audiobooks, is also excellent. 


Crashing in Love by Jennifer Richards Jacobson (3 stars)
This was a quick middle grade read about a girl named Peyton who finds an accident victim on the road and begins to develop a crush on him while he is comatose. The character's mother is an investigative journalist so Peyton has access to information about his case, and she keeps involving herself in the search for whoever hit the boy and ran away. I figured out who did it pretty early on, but it was a satisfying ending. The content was 95% appropriate, but this isn't one my kids will be likely to read. 


The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate diCamillo (4 stars)
I was so worried about this new Kate DiCamillo book because I kept seeing it compared to The Inquisitor's Tale, which I recommend Catholic families avoid because it's so grossly anti-Catholic. Thankfully, this book is not very much like The Inquisitor's Tale at all. It's a little light on religion, which is a little disappointing in a book that includes characters who are a monk and a priest, but it's not antagonistic to faith in general. 

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (4 stars)
I listened to this on audio with my kids and eventually realized that the audio, which was the British version and our physical copy, which is the U.S. edition, have hundreds of tiny differences between them. I prefer the original UK version personally. I'm not sure what the changes for the U.S. edition were meant to accomplish - most of them were really strange choices.


Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels (4 stars)
I was a bit misled about this book. Someone in a Catholic Facebook group asked for romances that she could read without feeling she had to go to Confession and a commenter suggested this one. I had been planning to read it anyway, but after hearing that it was Catholic-friendly, I bumped it up on my list. It was a good book in many ways, but not in any way in line with Church teaching. There are sex scenes in the book, references to artificial birth control and other things that I was not expecting based on how the book had been described. I did like the way it handled the premise, of people from opposite ends of the political spectrum falling in love. It was just so reasonable and sane, and it promotes the kind of bridge-building we should all be focused on. I also loved the characters.  But this is not a Catholic romance novel, it's just a regular romance novel. 


Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (5 stars)
Finally, my last read of the month was this lengthy Pulitzer prize winner. I loved it, and I'm so thankful to my library for finally getting it on audio because it was taking me forever in print, and I zipped right through it once I could listen to it. I'm finding that I have a real love for books about the American West besides never having been West of Pennsylvania. 


As for the rest of the family's reading...

My husband finished The Flood at Reedsmere by Hester Burton and he is now reading The Night of the Comet by Leon Garfield. 

M., (7 years, 9 months) read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye and The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. She read A Book for Jennifer by Alice Dalgliesh aloud to my mother-in-law on Skype as well. 

C. (5 years, 11 months) finished The Folk of the Far Away Tree by Enid Blyton, then  zipped through The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum in two days. She also read The Happy Orpheline by Natalie Savage Carlson and is now reading A Brother for the Orphelines. I've been reading to her from My Bookhouse Vol. 3: Through Fairy Halls and she is really enjoying it. 

E. (3 years, 10 months) mastered two more Hooked on Phonics readers: Pig Wig Can Hit and Tag. Her next book is Ann's Hat

R. (17 months) is really into Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo, Helen Oxenbury's Big Baby Book, and Winter Babies by Kathryn O. Galbraith. He says "book" all the time. 

A. (17 months) likes our big colorful word books by Roger Priddy and Animal Sounds by Aurelius Battaglia (especially the sheep page). 


Up Next For Me

My big undertaking for the month of September is to listen to The Source by James Michener, which is 55 hours on audio. This is my selection for that Instagram book group where the theme is The Middle East. I'm also participating in Series September, hosted by Sarah's Nightstand and Krista's Books and Jams on YouTube and in a fall reading challenge hosted by another group of booktubers. Right now I'm listening to An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn and I'm reading The Space Between Sisters by Mary McNear in the Kindle app. 

Linking Up